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CPS Students Back In Classrooms As Chicago Teachers Union Set To Vote On Tentative COVID-19 Safety Agreement

CHICAGO (CBS)-- After five days of no classes at the Chicago Public Schools, amid a dispute between the district and the Chicago Teachers Union over a return to in-person learning, students returned to classrooms on Wednesday.

CBS 2's Asal Rezaei reports the return to class came after CPS and CTU on Monday reached a tentative agreement on COVID-19 safety protocols, though the deal still must be approved by the union's rank-and-file membership.

At Carl Schurz High School in Irving Park, students said they were highly anticipating coming back to classrooms on Wednesday, after being remote for five days. Many of them are eagerly awaiting the CTU vote for what's ahead.

Teachers returned to school buildings on Tuesday after the CTU House of Delegates voted Monday to end their remote work action. The union had voted last week to begin working remotely as they demanded better COVID-19 safety measures at schools coming out of winter break amid a major surge in cases fueled by the more contagious Omicron variant.

With a tentative deal in hand between CTU and CPS, parents told CBS 2 they're happy for kids to be back in classrooms.

"We want our kids to be safe, we also want our kids in school; glad that they're able to come to an agreement reasonably quickly, and I'm glad to get her back going into school," said Spencer Goodwine, parent of a student at Mitchell Elementary.

Jose Guzman, a freshman at Carl Schurz High School, said he's looking forward to getting back to school, and seeing everyone in person again.

"Being able to just go to the gyms and stuff, and like talking to my friends," he said.

CTU members are voting this week on whether to accept or deny the six-page safety proposal that the two sides reached on Monday.

The tentative agreement includes safety metrics that would shift individual schools to remote learning for five days if at least 30% of teachers are absent for two days because of COVID-19, and the use of substitutes can't get that absence rate under 25%; or if 40% of the school's students are required to quarantine.

The deal also calls for an opt-in testing program, with the district and the union agreeing to work together to increase student participation in testing to 100% by Feb. 1.

CPS also will offer new incentives to encourage substitute teachers to accept assignments during the pandemic, and provide KN95 masks for students and staff.

CPS officials said they will announce whether students will have to make up any of the missed days after the vote comes down on Wednesday.

Union members will be voting until 4 p.m., and results are expected soon after.


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